LANE | Wheat Thriving as a Coach at Valley
The one-time star at Ballard and U of L is winding down a strong first-year as head coach with the Vikings.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Twenty years after his playing his last game at U of L and eight years after his last game as a professional, DeJuan Wheat is enjoying a fine first season as a high school head coach. He's led Valley to a 21-8 record and a berth in next week's Sixth Region Tournament.
He was one of the most popular and successful players to put on a Louisville uniform. After starring at Ballard High School for Scott Davenport, Wheat started from day one at U of L and went on to score 2183 points, 2nd to Darrell Griffith on the all-time list at the school. He's also fifth all-time in assists. After nearly a dozen years playing professionally in the NBA and all over the world, the 6-foot point guard kept his hand in basketball by holding camps and doing individual training, with coaching always in his plans.
"I always wanted to lead young men," said Wheat. "Not only on the court, but to help shape their future as well."
He learned a great deal from both Davenport and Denny Crum at Louisville.
"Both of those coaches, Scott D and Coach Crum are excellent coaches." Wheat continued. "I still see myself when I'm teaching kids here at Valley, the principles and core values that they taught me. My style is a little more up-tempo, but the values are still the same; defense first, share the ball second and get out and run."
Davenport is not surprised that his quiet point guard got into coaching.
"When he spoke, you listened," said Davenport. "He was definitely quiet and humble but when he said something, all heads turned. He was a passionate student of the game and as great a teammate as I've ever coached. I can just imagine how lucky those players are to play for such a class young man."
Wheat said he has really enjoyed the season and is very pleased with his young team and their attitude and he hopes to be in coaching for the long haul.
"It's not a publicity stunt," said Wheat. "I have my heart into this."
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